Mod Home Ec Teacher

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Comments - How to Make Authentic Oilcloth

Anonymous on Jun 09, 2012:

So you can coat a jacket that's already made...lets say a carhartt coat with linseed oil and it makes it like a breathable rain jacket?

Anonymous on Jun 09, 2012:

So you can coat a jacket that's already made...lets say a carhartt coat with linseed oil and it makes it like a breathable rain jacket?

Rhia on May 14, 2012:

Hi I just stumbled upon your page as I was looking how to make genuine oilcloth. I am going to make reusable snack bags with the oilcloth and had a  question... Which side would touch the food? (there will be an untreated cotton sewn to it for the outer seen part).

Thanks!!! :)

Anonymous on Mar 26, 2012:

How do you store an oilcloth?  If you are not 100 percent sure it is dry, then there is a possiblity of it heating up and catching fire, true?  I would like to make one, but want to keep it fairly clean inbetween uses.  Thanks.

Sally on Jan 05, 2012:

Carlos...Thanks so much for your response.  I am going to try organic flaxseed oil and see how it dries...I am in no rush, but want to be sure if my kids are eating at the table I have put something safe on it for them.

Carlos on Jan 04, 2012:

To Sally and Angela about the type of oil.

Linseed and flaxseed are the same thing, however, linseed oil is processed with solvents that makes it inedible. Some of those solvents are what might have health risks.

Boiling linseed oil can, depending on the amount of time and temp, quicken drying times. Most "boiled" linseed oil, however, is instead mixed with chemical driers (like lead) to cut down on wait time.

I have bought the gallon jugs of raw oil from the hardware store (think it's processed with alkali). And also gallons of refined (usually processed with alkali) from Daniel Smith in Seattle or online. I dont remember what I have researched on drying times and quality but there are books and online resources that can help you find that out. Daniel Smith sells cold-pressed (which might have less added solvents) and stand oil too.

There is information you can find on additives and pigments that are added to linseed oil to make artist oils that can adjust characteristics.

-Carlos from Olympia, Wa.

Carlos on Jan 04, 2012:

To Angela regarding thickness of base material:

A thicker canvas will indeed become very stiff. Theincreased material will absorb more of the oil and it will become very tough. Sometimes that is exactlly what you want. Carhart's cotton duck canvas (12oz) is a common type of fabric and you have to be carefull about making it too stiff. I have accidentally made a jacket into a suit of armor. Usually a thinner material is used more like a linen (maybe a medium weight will be perfect for your application). That is what Filson's does up here in Seattle. When you use a thicker (ABSORBENT) material you have to be careful about overlayering it too quick which will retard the oxidation (drying times).

Carlos G. Olympia Wa

Sally on Jan 03, 2012:

After doing some more research I found that raw linseed oil is the same thing as flaxseed oil...does anyone know if they dry at the same rate...the linseed oil I am trying to avoid is boiled or refined they are safe for my children

Sally on Dec 31, 2011:

 Have really been excited to try this new project...but when I read the linseed oil can at says it contains lead and other harmful I looking at the wrong kind of linseed oil, or is this just not the right project for a family with kids?


Molly M on Sep 20, 2011:

Wallpaper as oilcloth floor covering design?  I'd like to make my own, and have seen many references to _painting_ a design on it before, or during, the process of coating it with oil.  But, I doubt I'll be happy with my own efforts, and am considering using a wallpaper border instead.  Do you think it would work?  Would it STAY stuck through the process?  Thanks!

Olivia on Apr 22, 2011:

I can't seem to find the link about getting 'custom fabric laminated with a PVC coating'. Can you please list those companies? Thanks


Angela on Apr 06, 2011:

Know this was started some time ago but I have some questions.  

Which type of linseed is recommended Refined or I know winsor and newton offer drying linseed that dries up faster??? 

Secondly,  I'm wanting to make oil cloth for art smocks for kids and didnt know if I could use linseed oil on a medium weight fabric and if so would it make the fabric so rigid that it cannot be pliable for sewing and such??  

Hope to get a response!  Thanks for posting this! 

Carlos G on Sep 29, 2010:

Hey Jim,

Soaking it over-saturated the canvas. I imagine a film slowly dries on the surface and becomes somewhat sticky/not adhering to the surface/kinda gooey but that the layer is preventing the oil impregnating the cloth from curing.

You can attempt to remove/pick/scrape/wash the outer layers of sticky oil off maybe? Even if you got the oil to dry (linseed oil primarily cures through oxidation, not heat) it would be very stiff.

Carlos G. from Washington

ModHomeEcTeacher on May 22, 2010:

Jeesh Helen, Thanks for the warning. I hope everyone reads this and takes precautions. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

helen on May 22, 2010:

A word of warning about linseed oil - I just moved back into my house after 79 days in a hotel and $50,000 worth of repairs to my house from a fire caused by linseed oil on a rag.  Linseed oil is spontanioulsly combustible when it is on fabric that is folded over itself.  You must leave the canvas stretched until it is completely dry.  It does not matter if it is raw or boiled - they are both combustible.  Make sure you have a place to dry your cloth outside and that you clean all your tools carefully - you have to use detergent to get the oil out of brushes and cloth and dry them flat on a non-flamable surface (like concrete).  I have used linseed oil for years on my teak furniture but all it took was one time for me to get distracted and it was all over. 

Carlos on Apr 27, 2010:


Works great for leather too. I am currently going through the second ot third month experimenting with how the mix i made compares to the leather conditioner and protectant I swear by. So far I have discovered that this works excellent as a way to make "patent" leather (which is what they call the shined, polished, hardened leather that commercially is now made out of petrochemicals). The leather is stronger, stiffer, resistant to scratches, and has a nice sheen, but also might be contributing to cracking on the toe ceases and is not nourishing the leather like regular leather dressing/conditioner/lotion/cream.

So to sum up, it will harden the leather which may or may not be what you are looking for, but if it is not something that is constantly creasing like the toe area of shoes, it will be great (though I recommend the leather be lotioned before-hand and always encourage maintainence of leather over time).



In addition to uses for cloth, these ingredients work great for coating wood (beautiful finish and protectant), metal. This stuff is more of a wood finish that happens to work on cloth.


-Carlos from Washington

Carlos on Apr 27, 2010:

Only thick applications of the solution will create a laminated effect. I have applied this to some cotton canvas and it just soaks into the fibers, but with heavier coats it will indeed "laminate."


The spontaneous combustion that you have heard warnings about are when the linseed oil is drying. Linseed oil gets warm as it dries IF THERE IS NOT PROPER VENTILATION. So if you throw it in a container it will slowly start to heat up which quickens the drying which raises the heat, and according to warnings it can spontaneously combust. Is this a danger? Not much, but just dont leave an item in an air tight container. I coat stuff, leave it in a room with a heater, have put it in the oven at 170F, put a heat gun or a blow dryer on it, heat the mix up in a double boiler, and none of these situations have made me worry about this.

However, I have felt this after applying it to one shoe that was insulated and had goretex lining. The item was not able to breathe much (and I was wearing around the shoe) so it was not able to ventilate. My foot started to feel warm and you could feel a difference in exterior temperatures between the shoe not coated and the shoe that was.



Canvas is usually cotton. Cotton will soak up the material and it will eventually harden and become like rawhide. If you try to make a stretchy cotton weave into rawhide, I think it would break the fibers of the cloth. A friend thinks it would work though so i will try it sometime.

Cee on Apr 24, 2010:

Thanks for the super prompt reply!

ModHomeEcTeacher on Apr 24, 2010:

Cee-I don't know about that. If you have small children that will be around it and touching it, I probably wouldn't use it.

Cee on Apr 24, 2010:

I forgot to add that I think the fabric is cotton, or cotton mix.

Cee on Apr 24, 2010:

I have a new ottoman that I would love to protect with this method (a four year old and a 3 month old in the house!). Do you think it would be okay to use on an already upholstered piece and let dry outside? How many coats would be effective...would one do it? Thanks for any help.

Anonymous on Jan 27, 2010:

I would like to make a purse out of a cotton, quilting material and want to make it laminated like this.  Can I apply this to cotton or does it have to be something more durable like canvas and linen?  Also, I keep reading how flammable linseed oil is--when does that apply?

Thanks!  This is so helpful.

ModHomeEcTeacher on Nov 24, 2009:

Carlos-Wow! Thanks for the information. You did all the lab work for all of us. Great job! I'm sure readers will be happy to find out these kinds of details.

Carlos on Nov 24, 2009:

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A little history: linseed oil used to be mixed with lead to form what they called Red Lead. They have also mixed it with iron oxide. These two mixtures are used as a primer and protecting barrier for steel. I believe there are still old bridges and structures painted red because of that. Ship keels (red) I think might still be, but I am not sure. You can also mix other metallic ores for different colors. Fishermen's oilskin or oilcloth linseed coats would eventually become yellowish because of the oil and still today, the traditional color for the plastic "oilskin" outerwear is a kinda flax-seed yellow.



Carlos on Nov 24, 2009:

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I scoured the internet for information on oil cloth/tin cloth/oilskin/waxed cotton, linseed oil, etc...

Made up a batch for jackets (must be softer and more pliable than these table cloths). It dries in about a week, but if you put multiple layers before it dries, you can have minor problems. I borrowed a hair drier to help the absorption of the liquid linseed oil+ beeswax+pine tar+orange oil and was able to apply a second coat quickly afterward. If you heat it up (used a double boiler system) in boiling water for an hour (to multiple hours) it will help speed the dry time.

I chose to use RAW instead of BOILED linseed oil because I could control what additives were in it.

Boiled linseed oil, according to many is not actually boiled, but ACTS as if it was because it is mixed with chemicals or metallic ores that speed up the dry time.

Linseed oil is a slow drying oil that forms into a hard solid with exposure to air. After it dries it will no longer have an oily feel or rub off oil, but it definately does while it is drying!

The smell is hard for some people to get used to, but it smells while it is drying (or if you put too much and interior layers become exposed and start to dry).

Never wash it. Wipe or scrube with cold water. Soap, degreasers, hot rinses, etc will break down the oil or wax. It is less of a problem for thick layers of straight linseed on table cloths or floor cloth, but when mixed with beeswax and on a garment it is definitely bad to wash.

It works great for canvas hats! Will not be "drippy."  The dry linseed will give it strength, durability, and rigidness. It is safe for leather, though I am not sure about using it straight. Like I said above, I mixed it with some other stuff (primarily beeswax).

Interested in learning and sharing more about this stuff.

-Carlos from Washington

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